From NFL Athletes to Movie and TV Stars

From Gridiron to Movie Set

We’ve gathered twelve of the most well known cases of football players who traded in their shoulder pads and helmets for hair stylists and movie premieres. Men who swapped head coaches for directors and cheerleaders for leading ladies. We know that athletes can have big personalities, here are twelve times that someone in Hollywood took notice.

Carl Weathers

Played in 8 total games for the Oakland Raiders.

Starred in the first four Rocky films, Predator, Action Jackson, Happy Gilmore, Little Nicky, the Toy Story franchise, Street Justice, Arrested Development and currently plays Greef Karga in the Star Wars series The Mandalorian.

Terry Crews

Played six seasons in the NFL. Two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers, and one season each with the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles. He also played one season with the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe.

Starred in Everybody Hates Chris, Are We There Yet? and the series Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He was also in The Expendables series and currently hosts America’s Got Talent.

Bubba Smith

Played defensive end and tackle for the Baltimore Colts (1967-1971), Oakland Raiders (1973-1974), and Houston Oilers (1975-1976).

Starred in The Police Academy series (1-6).

Merlin Olsen

Played with the Los Angeles Rams as defensive tackle for 15 seasons. He started in 198 consecutive games and played 208 regular games to set club records in both those categories.

Starred in Little House on the Prairie, Father Murphy and Aaron’s Way.

Jim Brown

Played nine seasons with the Cleveland Browns. First-team All-NFL eight times, nine Pro Bowls and leading rusher three times.

Starred in The Dirty Dozen, Three the Hard Way, The Running Man, and Mars Attacks!

John Matuszak

Played for the Raiders after a year with the Houston Oilers and two with the Kansas City Chiefs. He played in 87 regular season games with 72 starts. He won two Super Bowls with the Raiders.

Starred in the Goonies, One Crazy Summer, Ice Pirates, and North Dallas Forty.

Alex Karras

Played twelve seasons for the Detroit Lions where he was a four-time Pro Bowl player.

Starred in Blazing Saddles, Porky’s and as George Papadopolis, the adoptive father of Webster, in the ABC sitcom Webster.

Dick Butkus

Played for the Chicago Bears from 1965 to 1973. Played in eight Pro Bowls and was a two time NFL Defensive Player of the year.

Starred in Necessary Roughness, Gremlins 2, Blue Thunder and My Two Dads.

Fred Dryer

Played defensive end for the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams in his thirteen year career. He recorded 103 career sacks and is the only NFL player to score two safeties in one game.

Starred in the Hunter television series, Cheers, Bumblebee and Cannonball Run 2.

Fred Williamson

Played for the Raiders, Chiefs and Steelers and earned three Pro Bowl invites. He played cornerback and was nicknamed “The Hammer.”

Starred in Three the Hard Way, M*A*S*H, From Dusk till Dawn, and Black Cobra.

Ed Marinaro

Played for six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks. He appeared in Super Bowl VIII and Super Bowl IX with the Vikings and scored 13 touchdowns over his career.

Starred in a number of television series, including Blue Mountain State, Laverne & Shirley, Hill Street Blues and Sisters.

O.J. Simpson

Played for the Buffalo Bills and later, the 49ers. He led the league in rushing four years in 1972, 1973, 1975 and 1976. Named NFL Player of the Year in 1972, 1973 and 1975. He also played in six Pro Bowls.

Starred in the Roots television series, The Naked Gun series of films and the Towering Inferno.

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